The decision to seek multiple dental practices should never be taken lightly. When adding a practice, it’s easy to focus on how much “more” the dentist is getting; the idea is that they will be able to access more markets, cater to more patients, offer more specialized procedures, and eventually make more money.
Nathan Jeal and Bao-Tran Nguyen would caution dentists that there’s another side to that coin. That “more of everything” mentality is very difficult to sustain, as something always has to give. In their case, quickly acquiring multiple practices was an expression of their desire to achieve, but until they figured out a recipe to follow it came at the cost of losses in other areas.
Growing several practices simultaneously can easily translate into less sleep, less enjoyment, less predictability from patients, and even sharp decreases in profits. Those were the issues this power couple of practice-flipping dentists encountered, and those issues prompted them to invest in mentors and coaches as means to acquire the skills and mindset needed to improve their business.
Today, Nathan and Bao-Tran are helping other dentists through the challenges of practice growth via their Fast Growth Practice mastermind and private advising program. They focus on growth with a potent combination of authority marketing and improved conversion to help dentists both acquire and close more opportunities.
Improving Case Acceptance With Better Communication
Good communication and improvements in case acceptance go hand in hand. Case acceptance tends to be a challenge the higher the cost of treatment gets but it really doesn’t have to be that way. Small changes to the communication approach can be one of the key propellers for practice growth. In doctor-patient relations, communication is what trust is built on, and without trust, people will be less likely to decide to undertake procedures.
Avoiding confusion must be the goal of all communication and dentists can quickly make strides in their ability to be understood by patients when they have a clear plan. It starts with listening to understand what the patient’s objective are before ever making recommendations about what they should do. WIth this approach the dentist can always be certain of providing what their patient wants which according to Nathan is they key to case acceptance.
There are many communication skills dentists could learn and strengthen. Active listening skills are among them: hearing the patient, staying engaged, signaling that engagement while they’re talking, waiting for the patient to finish, and not jumping in. Knowing how to effectively break down information while focusing on the benefit and not the technical part is just as important.
Putting the Patient in the Center
Patient-centricity and dentistry have a long way to go, or at least that’s the conclusion one would get from reviewing dental literature. While there is no doubt that patient experience plays a crucial role in the perception of quality of care, there are still no solid guidelines on how to define, achieve, or measure patient-centric care.
That, however, shouldn’t stop dentists from putting their clients’ wants first. This is a piece of advice shared by Nathan, and it has direct consequences of improving case acceptance, a cornerstone of growth for any practice. It goes like this: “Listen for what your patient wants and stop trying to force them into what you think they need.”
This approach relies on strong communication skills to let the dentist circumvent their instinct to give quick solutions and instead focus on the patient and what they want. Why is this important? Nathan explains it like this: “If the dentist is trying to force patients into something that matches up with the dentist’s dogmatic interpretation of what dentistry is supposed to be, there will often be disagreements.” He continues, “This is often where patients leave the office, thinking they didn’t get what they came for. The patient can come in with a sore tooth and leave with a sore tooth because the dentist focused so much on what they wanted to do for the patient rather than on what the patient wanted for themselves.”
The remedy for this is simple; just a couple of probing questions can help dentists understand what kind of an outcome the patient is looking for. With that understanding, they might modify their offer into something more easily accepted by the patient, providing great care without it feeling forced.
Branching Out Into Non-Dentist Territory
Being a dentist is one thing. Being a business owner and an entrepreneurial dentist is something altogether different. A lot of dentists strive for practice ownership and believe that by virtue of owning their own practice or working in one where they can witness the business side of the profession they can somehow figure it all out. When it comes to growing and improving a practice, there might be a need to take it up a notch and that’s where a focus on the communication strategies needed to improve conversion and case acceptance come in.
Once dentists perfect their communication skills then practice marketing becomes infinitely easier. Dentists are doctors after all, experts in dental health and they have the benefit of training and experience which gives them real authority they can leverage. Marketing dental practices is about establishing trust with people and that’s so much easier to achieve when the doctor is at the top of their game.
Thanks to social media, local search, and even to some extent traditional media such as local radio, there’s no shortage of opportunities to engage prospective patients where they spend their time. That’s the golden rule of marketing after all: be where the audience is. The rest is up to their gravitas, their communication skills, and their openness to approaching patients in ways that are proven to yield better results.
When the time comes to expand a dental practice or increase the number of locations, it’s wise to first assess the quality of relationships with patients and clients. Most often there is room to improve the experience that people have through easy to implement changes in communication strategy. When this is well understood then daily operations become more predictable and enjoyable, and marketing for new patients and procedures can be done with confidence, knowing that a well planned strategy for case acceptance will help maximize opportunities for growth.